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College Announces 2015 Alumni Award Winners

Published in spring 2015

The College Announces 2015 Alumni Award Winners

Each year, the College of Arts and Sciences honors alumni who have made exceptional contributions to their fields and to the lives of others. A ceremony for the 2015 winners will be held during Homecoming Weekend, October 8-11, 2015. This year’s winners are:

Distinguished Alumni of the Year     Malcolm H. Gissen and Harold D. McRae

Distinguished Service Alumnae of the Year     Tracy Epp and Elizabeth Hill

Young Alumna of the Year      Santina Protopapa

Malcolm H. Gissen (ADL ’65) is the president of an independent financial advisory firm, Malcolm H. Gissen & Associates, which he founded in San Francisco 30 years ago. In an earlier phase of his career, he practiced law in Wisconsin, where he litigated several landmark civil liberties cases. At every stage of his life, he has worked to advance civil rights, civil liberties and other progressive causes.

As an undergraduate, Gissen volunteered in Carl Stokes’ first mayoral campaign. During the summer of 1966, after his first year of law school at the University of Wisconsin, he worked in Mississippi for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an organization established by President John F. Kennedy. While there, Gissen helped monitor Klan violence, provide legal services to African American residents and assist with voter registration efforts and integration of public facilities. Upon returning to school, he successfully spurred the president of the University of Wisconsin to increase minority enrollment and made regular visits to Mississippi to recruit African American students for the university.

Gissen has supported a variety of programs, including several that he founded, to enrich the lives of African American children in the South and in low-income urban communities. He has also led efforts to revitalize Case Western Reserve’s Bay Area Alumni Chapter and has helped organize three reunions of his Phi Sigma Delta fraternity brothers.

Harold McRaeHarold D. McRae (ADL ’65) earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Adelbert College and an MBA from Harvard University. He went on to a successful career in marketing, sales, strategic planning and new product and business development, eventually holding senior management positions with American Express, Travelers, Caremark and Glaxo-Wellcome.

In 1997, McRae was the lead donor in establishing the Frank “Doc” Kelker Scholarship for African American students at Case Western Reserve. Later, as a university trustee (2002-06), he led the reorganization of CWRU’s Alumni Association. McRae has co-chaired the college’s visiting committee, volunteered for the Alumni Fund and served as a reunion chair. In 2014, he received the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Leadership Award from the African American Alumni Association.

Since his retirement in 2002, McRae has focused his energies on his volunteer and philanthropic interests. He was the lead donor for a new fellowship hall and sanctuary for St. Andrewes A.M.E. Church in his native Youngstown, Ohio. In Chicago, where he now lives, he has served on the board of Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly and the development board of the Walter Payton College Preparatory High School. In addition, he has volunteered as a tutor in the Chicago Public Schools, helping first graders with reading and math.

tracy-epp-edited RTracy Epp (CWR ’97) is the chief academic officer at Achievement First, a network of charter schools that serves Brooklyn, New York; Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford, Connecticut; and Providence, Rhode Island. She manages assessment, school leader and teacher development and the network-wide alignment of curriculum to ensure that all students can meet ambitious goals.

Epp began her career as a 1997 Teach For America corps member in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. There, she later became a leader in establishing and expanding a local charter school network, the IDEA Public Schools. Before she became involved with IDEA, Epp served as a program director and member of the national program team at Teach For America.

A double major in political science and history at Case Western Reserve, Epp has since earned an MEd in educational leadership at the University of Texas–Pan American and an EdD in educational leadership at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a fellow in the Pahara/Aspen Institute’s Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellowship Program.

Liz HillElizabeth Hill (CWR ’97, GRS ’97) is a superior court judge in San Mateo, California, where she hears criminal cases and sits as supervising judge in the South San Francisco branch courthouse. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science at Case Western Reserve and a JD from Stanford Law School.

Hill served as a deputy district attorney in San Mateo County from 2000 to 2010, holding specialty assignments in environmental protection, mental health cases and domestic violence prosecution. From 2010 to 2014, she served as a court commissioner, first in San Mateo County and then in Santa Clara County.

Hill was a member of the board of directors of Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse from 2005 to 2010. She mentors local high school students and volunteers as a mock trial judge. A member of the visiting committee for the College of Arts and Sciences, she created the Wellman Hill Political Science Internship Program in 2007. The program awards grants to political science majors pursuing unpaid summer internships in public service.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHSantina Protopapa (CWR ’00) is the founder and executive director of Progressive Arts Alliance (PAA), a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization that integrates the arts with other academic subjects. Launched in 2002, PAA has achieved national recognition for its expertise in this field.

With her team of five full-time employees and 15 artist-educators, Protopapa has partnered with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to integrate the arts into STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). PAA also facilitates workshops in libraries and other community settings, and it conducts the annual RHAPSODY Hip-Hop Summer Arts Camps.

Protopapa leads a design process that continually refines PAA’s programs to ensure that they remain relevant to the needs of students and teachers. She is the subject of a profile elsewhere in this issue.

Photo of Harold D. McRae by Daniel Milner. All other photos courtesy of their subjects.

To nominate graduates of the college or its predecessor institutions for the 2016 Alumni Awards, please visit The deadline for nominations is Dec. 31, 2015.


art/sci, etc.

David Ake, professor and chair in the Department of Music, released a CD titled Lake Effect. Ake, a jazz pianist, performs with saxophonist Peter Epstein, bassist Sam Minaie and drummer Mark Ferber.

Mary Patrice Erdmans and Timothy Black, associate professors in the Department of Sociology, are the authors of On Becoming a Teen Mom: Life before Pregnancy.

Paul Ferguson, instructor and director of jazz studies in the Department of Music, released a CD titled Encounter with the Paul Ferguson Ensemble.

Elina Gertsman, associate professor in the Department of Art History and Art, and Daniel Goldmark, associate professor in the Department of Music, were named 2015 Fellows of the American Council of Learned Societies.

Jessica Green, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, received the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for her book Rethinking Private Authority: Agents and Entrepreneurs in Global Environmental Governance. The award, presented annually by the International Studies Association, recognizes the year’s best book in the field of environmental studies.

Ralph Harvey, associate professor in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, co-edited 35 Seasons of U.S. Antarctic Meteorites: A Pictorial Guide to the Collection.

Kelly McMann, associate professor in the Department of Political Science, is the author of Corruption as a Last Resort: Adapting to the Market in Central Asia.

John Orlock, the Samuel B. and Virginia C. Knight Professor of Humanities, was honored at the 10th Annual Final Draft Awards for his screenplay The End-of-Summer Guest. He took home an award in the “Period/Historical/War” genre.

Sandra W. Russ, Distinguished University Professor and the Louis D. Beaumont University Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, received the Rudolf Arnheim Award for Outstanding Achievement in Psychology and the Arts from the American Psychological Association.

Ted Steinberg, the Adeline Barry Davee Distinguished Professor of History, won the 2015 PROSE Award in the U.S. history category from the Professional and Scholarly Publishing division of the Association of American Publishers. He was recognized for his book Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York.

Barney Taxel (ADL ’72), instructor in the Art Studio Program in Department of Art History and Art, has published The Lake View Cemetery: Photographs from Cleveland’s Historic Landmark.

Institute Professor Mark Turner received an Anneliese Maier Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The five-year, €250,000 prize will support his collaborations with faculty members at the University of Osnabrück and other German universities. Turner, who teaches in the Department of Cognitive Science, is one of eleven prominent scholars selected for the prize this year.

Rhonda Y. Williams, associate professor in the Department of History and director of the Social Justice Institute, is the author of Concrete Demands: The Search for Black Power in the 20th Century.

Michael Bane, a doctoral student in the Department of Music, has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program Fellowship to pursue his dissertation research in Paris at the Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance. Bane’s subject is amateur music and amateur musicians in 17th-century Paris.

Four graduate students from the Department of Music’s Historical Performance Practice Program were accepted to the inaugural Berwick Academy for Historical Performance, to be held this summer during the Oregon Bach Festival. Violinists Cynthia Black, Karin Cuellar-Rendon, Alice Culin-Ellison and Allison Monroe will work with a prestigious faculty and perform in five concerts. Music department lecturer and baroque oboist Debra Nagy is a member of the academy’s faculty.

Mandy Smith, a doctoral student in the Department of Music, won the 2015 David Sanjek Memorial Graduate Student Prize at this year’s conference of the International Association of the Study of Popular Music (IASPM). She was awarded the prize for a presentation and performance titled “’Drumming Is My Madness’: The Primitive in Late 1960s Rock Drumming.”

Anne Nickoloff, the arts and entertainment editor for The Observer, CWRU’s student newspaper, is one of nine winners of this year’s Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Competition, sponsored by the Scripps Howard Foundation. A rising senior majoring in English and psychology, Nickoloff was invited to take part in a nine-day journalism study program in Japan this May.


Jennell Vick Takes the Helm at Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center

jennell vickJennell Vick (GRS ’96), a member of the communication sciences faculty in the Department of Psychological Sciences, has been named executive director of Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center. An assistant professor since 2010, Vick will continue to serve on the faculty and will expand her research on speech and language production.

In her new position, Vick hopes to strengthen the long-standing relationship between the Communication Sciences Program and the center. For more than 70 years, faculty members and clinicians from the two institutions have worked in partnership, both in researching speech disorders and in preparing students for careers in speech-language pathology. Vick herself earned a master’s degree from the program in 1996 and went on to complete a doctorate at the University of Washington.

In 2012, Vick became one of the first CWRU faculty members to receive a Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award. The three-year grant has supported her efforts to develop technology-assisted treatments for children with severe speech disorders. Her research is also funded by the National Institutes of Health.

In Memoriam: Assistant Dean Ken Klika

Doug_ Ken and PatrickKenneth L. Klika (GRS ’90, civil engineering), the assistant dean responsible for space planning and facilities management in the College of Arts and Sciences, died Oct. 31, 2014, at age 69.

A man of diverse attainments, Klika was a civil engineer, construction project manager, technology consultant and educator. He came to Case Western Reserve in 2003 after retiring from the College of Engineering at the University of Akron, where he was an emeritus associate professor.

Klika contributed to every aspect of the college’s mission. He worked with newly appointed faculty researchers as they set up their labs. He oversaw major renovation projects, including the creation of the SAGES offices and café in Crawford Hall, and he represented the college during the design and construction of Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center, which houses faculty members in communication sciences and psychology. More recently, he played a major role in planning for the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center at The Temple – Tifereth Israel.

In addition to providing leadership in developing new facilities, Klika supervised the maintenance and repair of the college’s historic buildings. He was always on call to deal with emergencies: ruptured pipes, mechanical failures, security concerns.

Though it wasn’t part of his job description, Klika also mentored and supported students. A former U.S. Marine who served in the First Aircraft Wing during the Vietnam War, he was a founder of the university’s student veterans organization. He taught classes and supervised master’s theses as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Civil Engineering. After becoming the faculty advisor to the CWRU crew team, he sometimes took to the water himself, training, racing and winning alongside rowers who were decades younger than he was.

Colleagues and students appreciated Klika’s technical expertise, his boundless energy and, above all, his geniality and kindness. His favorite greeting was, “How can I help you?” As Dean Cyrus Taylor told The Daily, the university’s newsletter, “He loved being on a campus, being with students, and doing everything he could to improve our facilities and assist our young people.”


Alumni Notes

Lawrence Stern (ADL ’57, GRS ’58) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the publication of his best-selling textbook, Stage Management, this April. The 10th edition appeared in 2013.

John C. Fazio (ADL ’61, LAW ’65) is the author of Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln.

Larry J. Hornbeck (CIT ’65; GRS ’68, ’74), whose inventions ushered in the era of digital cinema, received an Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during a Science and Technical Awards ceremony on Feb. 8.

Robert Herbold (GRS ’66, mathematics; GRS ’68, computer science) has been awarded an honorary doctorate of commercial science from the University of Cincinnati. Herbold, retired executive vice president and chief operating officer of Microsoft Corporation, is the managing director of The Herbold Group, LLC.

Charles Prebish (ADL ’66, chemistry; GRS ’68, religion), professor emeritus of religious studies at The Pennsylvania State University, was honored this winter for his contributions to Buddhist studies during a career spanning four decades.

Michael H. Diamant (CIT ’68) is one of 18 litigation attorneys across the country named to the Silicon Valley Arbitration and Mediation Center’s 2015 list of the world’s leading arbitrators and mediators in the technology sector.

Stanley DeAngelis (WRC ’70, architecture) received the 2015 Leadership Rhode Island Volunteer Award.

Mark Irwin (WRC ’75, GRS ’82) has published American Urn: Selected Poems (1987-2014).

David W. Tank (CWR ’76, physics and mathematics) and three colleagues have won the 2015 Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize, the world’s most valuable prize for neuroscience research. The scientists were honored for inventing and developing two-photon microscopy, a transformative tool in brain research. Tank is the Henry L. Hillman Professor in Molecular Biology at Princeton University and co-director of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.

Nadine Adelson Bendycki (WRC ’78, GRS ’79) is the director of market research and decision support at University Hospitals of Cleveland. She and Richard Bendycki (WRC ’78, LAW ’81) celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary in 2014.

Timothy V. Johnson (MSL ’79) has been named director of the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University.

Jeffery F. Miller (WRC ’80) has been appointed director of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. Miller is a professor in the university’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics.

Rev. Raymond P. Guiao, S.J. (WRC ’86) has been chosen as the 26th president of Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland.

Pete Mackey (CWR ’86, English; GRS ’86, legal studies) has been named chief communications officer at Amherst College.

Nancy Peppler (WRC ’86, SAS ’92) is the new executive director of Cornucopia, a Cuyahoga County nonprofit that provides community-based vocational training for people with disabilities.

Neale Chumbler (GRS ’94, sociology) has been named dean of the College of Health & Human Services at Western Kentucky University.

Shawn C. Burdette (CWR ’97, chemistry) has been awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Erinne Kovi Dyer (CWR ’98, psychology and sociology) was named one of Charlotte Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.” She is vice president of corporate communications, marketing and outreach for Carolinas HealthCare System.

Nina Halabisky (GRS ’02, physics entrepreneurship) is now director of R&D strategy, portfolio and project management at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Clarence Lam (CWR ’03) represents Maryland House District 12 in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Dana Cowen (GRS ’14, art history) has been appointed associate curator of European art at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.

SEND US YOUR NEWS: The notes in this section are compiled from news releases, other publications and messages from alumni like you. We want to hear about milestones in your life. Please send your updates, with your graduation year, to


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